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Support >  Diet as a TREATMENT for lymphoma?

Last update: 03/09/2014

Diet as a TREATMENT for Lymphoma?

Common sense (and research) tells us that a healthful diet and taking part in regular exercise provide tangible health benefits to cancer survivors, which might also improve our survival, and is likely to improve our quality of life. (Energy and fitness = quality of life)

… These practices, if maintained, can help us to recover from treatment and can broaden the range of therapies that we can use when treatment is needed.

... Such practices can also prevent some medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) that can limit our therapeutic options.

That said, we are skeptical about the potential of diet as a TREATMENT for lymphoma. We suppose that this position puts us at odds with a good many patients who understandably want to  believe otherwise, who may then ask:   What is the harm in the belief?

The harm we see (and have observed on some message boards) is that the belief can translate into a fixation on questions and stories about the activity of this or that dietary factor, which are taken as evidence of benefit if the lymphoma behaves well in that person.

The belief leads also to the non-critical and selective acceptance of preclinical scientific papers that support the belief, such as from test tube assays.

The belief reinforces confidence in the weakest standards of evidence (testimonials) and distracts us from the important, evidence-based advances in clinical research, based on an understanding of what drives the disease and how it can be targeted, and on standards of evidence for proving clinical efficacy.

The belief can also cause some patients to delay or avoid proven standard therapies and to lose sight of promising investigational protocols (while the community focuses on yet another claim that was heard on the Internet).

We are aware that challenging beliefs can cause discomfort and sometimes anger. Fortunately, we have  abundant reason to be hopeful about making additional progress against the different kinds of lymphoma and therefore more reason to point out the weaknesses of implausible claims.

… Lymphoma cells have many normal receptors (cd20, 22, 19, … and more) that can be targeted or used to deliver anti-cancer compounds. Investigators are evaluating small molecule drugs that target internal pathways that prevent programmed cell death, such as bcl-2. (Here we are merely scratching the surface.)

Meanwhile, some types of lymphoma can behave exceedingly well for many years without the need for treatment (a reason diet testimonials continue to persuade) and virtually all the types of lymphoma are responsive to standard therapies – some types can be cured; others can be managed very well as treatment is needed.

So our position on diet as a treatment for lymphoma is not always a popular one, but it’s one that we feel is credible and necessary in order to shift the focus to more plausible science- and evidence-based research. It is a policy that's based on our reading of the available clinical evidence and on the input from our scientific advisors.

Our goal is to make the case for a science-based approach to patient support, and to realize part of that goal requires that we urge patients to critically review medical claims and testimonials.

If published scientific evidence comes forth that is contrary to our perspective on the potential of foods to treat lymphoma, we will certainly inform the community about it!

Patients Against Lymphoma
Providing support and evidence-based information, independent of health industry or supplement companies

Related Topics:

Diet and Exercise - background and reports
bullet CA Cancer J Clin 2012: Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors  | PDF version - printable

...discusses select nutrition and physical activity issues such as body weight, food choices, food safety, and dietary supplements; issues related to selected cancer sites; and common questions about diet, physical activity, and cancer survivorship.
bullet Nutrition - Medscape: Uncertainty About Nutrition and the Malnourished Cancer Patient

“There are guidelines on the nutritional management of malnourished patients with cancer from the American Dietetic Association, the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, and the Dietitians Association of Australia, among others. They all support the use of nutritional intervention. However, as the study authors point out, "these guidelines and recommendations rely heavily on consensus statements and good practice points in the absence of good-quality randomized controlled trial evidence."

Disclaimer:  The information on is not intended to be a substitute for 
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For all medical concerns, you should always consult your doctor. 
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